by

Seoul

Namdaemon Market

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Unlike Itaewon, there weren’t any tourists in Nandaemon, at least while I was there. Nandaemon was fascinating; hundreds and hundreds of tiny little shops selling mostly clothes, music, or food. The shopkeeper would sit outside and watch the world go by; there was little if any hectoring of passers-by like at Itaewon.

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Lots of food stalls in Namdaemon. I ducked into one stall/diner and was quickly greeted by the proprietor, an old woman; despite her speaking absolutely no English and my speaking virtually no Korean, she quickly figured out what I was asking for and brought me a Coke – IN A **GLASS** BOTTLE – and a Korean-style metal drinking cup. I sat in the diner stall and spent the next half hour or so watching the world pass the market by. It cost me 2000 won (about $2) and may well be the best Coke I ever purchased.

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The proprietor of this shop, an old man, tried to chat me up and realized about two words in that I wasn’t really the target market for his turtle soup ingredients, so instead he just smiled and vigorously shook my hand. I felt bad for the guy; they looked like nice turtles, I guess.

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At the other end of Namdaemon market was Namdaemon Gate, which is hundreds of years old and surrounded by a bustling city block, which come to think of it is a workable metaphor for Seoul in general.